Stefano Conti and Carla Vecchiotti, the DNA experts from the Sapienza University of Rome who have been asked to look again at evidence in the case of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, have requested permission to “review further scientific data” before submitting their report, according to a bulletin from Umbria Left.
This may or may not mean a great deal for the case. A review of certain evidence – including DNA results from a knife alleged to have been used in the murder of Meredith Kercher, a piece of her bra and footprints at the murder scene, said to have been made in blood – was ordered in December by the sublimely named Claudio Pratillo Hellman, the presiding judge in the current appeal of Knox and Sollecito. It has already been confirmed that it has not been possible to redo the original DNA tests because the evidence has degraded in the three and a half years since the crime.
So what is it that the scientists are asking for? It would seem that they already have permission from Judge Hellman to undertake a full review of the records from the original testing, without restriction on what they look at or how they perform their analysis. So it may be that the request really just amounts to a bid for more time to conduct the analysis already planned. Or it could be that they have turned to the judge for more explicit permission covering an area with regards to which objections might have been raised either by prosecutors or defence lawyers.
It would seem possible, but less likely based on the wording reported by Umbria Left, that there is an intention to conduct new tests on the physical evidence which go beyond the bounds of repeating what has already been done, but which the scientists feel might be useful to the court. This is just my speculation, you understand – I have no idea what such tests might be.
It could be that they have asked for permission to take apart the knife and examine the inside of the handle. Judge Hellman has previously ruled that this would require express permission from the court. But it might be expected that the news report would mention this if it formed part of the request.
In any event, Umbria Left suggests, the existing deadline of 9th May for completion of the scientific review may have to slip.
I think this, probably minor, piece of news can mostly be taken as a further indication that the report of Conti and Vecchiotti, when it is submitted, will be thorough. Hopefully, thorough enough to either remove doubts about the testing previously undertaken under the direction of Patrizia Stefanoni or, if there are doubts, to provide clarity as to what they are.
Note: There’s an update to this post here.